Strangers Spot People With Compassionate Genes in Seconds: Oxytocin Receptor & Empathy

By | November 16, 2011

… Strangers can “see” a persons trustworthy genes through their behaviors, suggests a new study finding that a single genetic change makes a person seem more compassionate and kind to others.

The gene in question is the “love hormone,” or oxytocin, receptor. A single change in the receptor can result in higher or lower empathy, or how much you can emotionally relate to others. These changes can be detected by strangers from just 20 seconds of soundless video; these strangers could literally see the person’s genes manifesting in their behavior.

Our genes are made of bases, called nucleotides, which come in four types: A, T, C, and G. Researchers have found that switching out a single A to a G on the “love hormone” receptor can have profound effects on behavior. A person with two copies of this A-to-G mutation (one from each parent) report having more empathy.

“Previous research has found that people that are GGs are more empathic, more compassionate,” study researcher Aleksandr Kogan at the University of Toronto told LiveScience. These studies were self-reported by the GGs, so Kogan’s study asked: “Do other people actually find people with a GG more trustworthy?”

… “The people on the video that had the copies of the G genes were treated as more compassionate, trustworthy and kind. There were specific behaviors that the G genes were doing that the A genes were doing less,” Kogan said. “These behaviors were signaling to the complete strangers that this is a trustworthy person. This is speaking to the power of very slight genetic variation and the amazing human ability to pick up on the differences.”The 23 video clips contained 10 GGs, 10 GAs and 3 AA variants. On average, only about 15 percent of Caucasians have two A oxytocin receptor gene variants. Of the 10 most trusted people, as indicated by the 119 study participants, six were GGs and four were GAs, none were AAs. Of the 10 least trusted, nine had at least one A variant and only one was GG ….

via Strangers Spot People With Compassionate Genes in Seconds | Genetic Mutation, Oxytocin Receptor & Empathy | LiveScience.

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